Family members remember Pedro Ruiz III one year after deadly YouTube stunt
FARGO, N.D.—A family is remembering one of their own, lost to a YouTube stunt gone wrong one year after it happened.
Next to the fountain at Lindenwood Park, balloons were sent to the sky.
The ceremony is a long family tradition, and now a way to keep the memory of Pedro Ruiz alive.
"We love you and miss you," said Pedro's aunt, Paula Ruiz, before releasing her balloon.
A row of cousins and aunts wearing t-shirts with his face shared their memories before letting go of the balloon strings.
"He was always the life of the party," Paula said. "Always had a smile on his face and put a smile on everybody's face no matter what."
"Lovable, friendly, funny, amazing, crazy, inspiring, he's awesome," described Marisela Ruiz, one of Pedro's many cousins. "He's everything. He was the big heart of our family."
A favorite song of his, I'll be Missing You by Puff Daddy, played in the background.
It's the same song they played at his funeral.
"Changed our lives forever," Paula recalled.
In the afternoon of June 26th 2017, Pedro and his girlfriend, Monalisa Perez, tried a deadly stunt for a YouTube video: stopping a bullet with a book.
His life ended minutes later.
On the back of their shirts, a picture of the gun with their message to everyone: "YouTube fame... not worth it."
Since it happened, the video they recorded leading up to the shooting came out.
"That was very hard to watch," said Claudia Ruiz, another aunt of Pedro.
In that footage, you could hear Pedro say, "If I die, I'll be ready for Jesus."
"Was it suicide? Was it planned? We don't know. We'll never know.," Claudia said. "She could have put the gun down and she didn't. Now we're all missing him."
Despite the unanswered questions, they're moving forward, taking Pedro's favorite quote to heart.
"Never be weak, always stay strong," Paula said. "That's what we're going to live by now."
"We're a big family, so we got to be strong," Claudia said.
Pedro's children are with Monalisa Perez in South Dakota and the Ruiz family said they haven't seen them for a while.
The Ruiz family hopes someday those kids visit them when they're old enough.